Can Ambient Sound Levels Cause Hearing Loss?

When people talk about ambient sound, they mean background noise. Common ambient sounds include traffic, office noise, natural sounds like birdsongs, water, and wind, as well as the noise of any neighborhood. So, can ambient sound levels cause hearing loss? No standard answer to this question exists. Hence, we need to look at the types of ambient sound and respective sound levels in more detail.

Common Ambient Sounds and Their Respective Sound Levels

Before we look at them, let’s remind ourselves that continued exposure to noise levels above 80-85 decibels are known to cause hearing loss. The noises below are typical in everyday life, and therefore unavoidable. But, could they cause hearing loss?

  • Office Environment: Normal noise level of approximately 40-65 decibels
  • Traffic: At a distance of 15 meters, highway traffic usually comes in at between 70 and 80 decibels
  • Quiet Suburb: Normally 50, can reach 80 decibels
  • Conversation and Music at a Restaurant: 60-70 decibels

The above ambient sounds, along with many others like the sound of a passenger vehicle, do not cause hearing loss. However, there are circumstances were ambient sound levels can cause some form of hearing impairment.

Ambient Sound Levels Above the 80-Decibel Limit

Ambient sound become problematic if it is above 85 decibels. The problem is that many household appliances along with machinery in workplaces exceed this limit. Occupational hearing loss is a major issue for people working with excess ambient sound levels. People like motorcycle couriers, construction workers, bartenders and even teachers can suffer hearing loss because the ambient sound levels are too high.

Final Thoughts

So, now you know the answer to the question can ambient sound levels cause hearing loss. If you’re worried, examine the ambient sound levels in your work or home environment. If you find they exceed the 80-decibel threshold, you ought to try and either wear ear protection or reduce the noise levels if you can. If you don’t, you’re likely to suffer hearing loss down the line.

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